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Food contact material regulations in China revised

Food contact material regulations in China revised, Asia packaging, China packaging, packaging legislation, food packaging
On 20 January 2015, National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China (NHFPC) published Draft Hygienic Standard for Use of food additives in Food Contact Materials and Products.

Under China’s new Food Safety Law, it is prohibited to import, use, or purchase of food-related products – including food packaging materials, utensils or equipment – that does not comply with Chinese Food Safety Standards. Unlike many other countries where a ‘Standard’ is an industry voluntary guideline, in China standards are frequently referenced and effectively incorporated into law as Mandatory Standards.

Additionally, this provision further requires that food producers establish product verification systems detailing the specification and supplier information for food-related products, which are to be maintained for two years

China has developed hygienic standards for a number of polymeric materials commonly used in food-contact packaging, including polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene terephthalate, nylon, and polycarbonate.

The standards have been issued by the Ministry of Health (MOH), while enforcement is to be conducted by the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

Generally, the standards for resins establish physical and chemical requirements for the material (e.g., weight loss upon drying, combustion residue, and extractions using n-hexane), while application-specific, set migration limits and performance criteria for finished containers and packaging.

China is in the process of revising many of its existing Food Safety Standards (e.g., hygienic standards, testing standards, etc.) relating to food packaging materials, some of which are well out of date, to ensure harmonization with the new Food Safety Law. For example, China's Hygienic Standard for Food Packaging Paper (GB 11680-1989) has been in place since 1989 and is currently being revised by a designated working group. In the meantime, however, existing standards are considered enforceable.

Currently there are more than 130 National Standards and 125 Industry Standards for food contact materials and products that are effectively mandatory. They regulate food contact materials and products from three aspects: raw materials, final products and additives.

Raw materials include paper, plastic, rubber, ink, adhesive and coating.

Additives usually are added into raw materials to improve performance and quality of products. Final product could be tableware, package, food container and so forth.

About the Food Safety Law
After several drafts and two rounds of public consultation in 2013 and 2014, the revised Law was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China on 25 April 2015.

The Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has begun to release supporting legislation following the introduction of China’s new Food Safety Law which entered into force on 1 October 2015.

Considered the most stringent Food Safety Law ever passed in China, a statement from CFDA states that the amended Law mandates “the most precise standards, the strictest administration, the harshest accountability system, and the gravest punishment” to regulate food and food related products in China.
The revised Law contains 154 articles, fifty more than the 2009 version introducing many new regulatory requirements. 

New provisions include tightened general requirements for food and food additives, but also specific requirements for food-related products and other product categories - GM foods, health foods, infant and young children formula, formulated food for special medical purposes, each of which will have its own additional implementation regulations. 

Available for free download - the current issue of Packaging Business Insight Asia contains a detailed analysis of the Food Safety Law.


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